Joel Szabat
Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy
In office
July 2019 – January 20, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byDerek Kan
Succeeded byCarlos Monje
Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Aviation and International Affairs
In office
January 2, 2019 – January 20, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded bySusan Kurland
Succeeded byAnnie Petsonk (Acting)
Personal details
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Chiling Tong
EducationGeorgetown University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Unit11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

Joel Szabat is an American government official and former military officer. In August 2018, Szabat was nominated by President Donald Trump to become Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Aviation and International Affairs.[1] He was confirmed by the United States Senate in a unanimous voice vote on January 2, 2019.[2] Szabat became Acting Under Secretary in June, 2019.[3]

The Under Secretary is the third-highest position in the Department of Transportation, after the Secretary and Deputy Secretary.[4]

Szabat first joined the Department of Transportation in 2002. He served in several positions, including Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, and Executive Director of the United States Maritime Administration.[5] In 2009, Szabat was the department's designated federal official for overseeing $48 billion of transportation infrastructure investments from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that led to the construction of 15,000 transportation infrastructure projects.[6]

In 2005, Szabat was assigned to the Embassy of the United States, Baghdad as the Transportation Counselor to the U.S. ambassador to Iraq; he also led U.S. government efforts to rebuild airports, ports and railroads in Iraq.[7] In 2006–2007, Szabat was the Chief of Staff to Administrator Steve Preston of the Small Business Administration, before returning to the Department of Transportation.[8]

Prior to first joining the Department of Transportation, Szabat worked as a Principal Consultant for transportation in the California State Assembly, as a management adviser in the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and for a private sector management consultancy.[6] He was a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, commanding soldiers patrolling the East-West German border during the Cold War.[9] Szabat and his wife, Chiling Tong,[10] founded the International Leadership Foundation,[11] a non-profit corporation that promotes the civic awareness, involvement and effectiveness of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.[12]


  1. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Personnel to Key Administration Posts". – via National Archives.
  2. ^ "Trump nominations tracker: See which key positions have been filled so far". Washington Post.
  3. ^ "Joel Szabat - Acting Under Secretary Transportation for Policy". US Department of Transportation. July 10, 2019.
  4. ^ "Office of the Under Secretary for Policy". US Department of Transportation. June 21, 2012.
  5. ^ "Nason Nominated to Lead FHWA; Szabat Confirmed for USDOT". AASHTO Journal. January 4, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Aviation and International Affairs Nominee Flies Through Confirmation Hearing".
  7. ^ "Asian Fortune - Asian Pacific American Community news in the Washington DC metropolitan area".
  8. ^ Thormeyer, Rob; Aug 23, 2006. "Szabat is SBA administrator's new chief of staff -". Washington Technology.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ "Joel Szabat - performing the functions and duties of the Under Secretary Transportation for Policy | US Department of Transportation".
  10. ^ "ANNOUNCING: Chiling Tong Joins as Newest Member of Committee of 100 | Committee 100".
  11. ^ "International Leadership Foundation". ILF.
  12. ^ "Chiling Tong: Passing a leadership torch|Across America|".